If you are just getting started with horseback riding, you are probably feeling overwhelmed by the variety of products available for horse riding and care. Some items are absolute essentials but others you can definitely do without.
We have compiled a horse riding equipment list of basic gear for both the rider and the horse. This article also includes a description of horse riding equipment names to help you out if you are completely new to the sport.
Horse Riding Gear Check-List
- Riding Boots
- 2-3 pairs of riding pants (breeches, tights, or jodhpurs).
- Comfortable and practical shirts and jackets
- Half Chaps
- Safety vest
- Riding gloves
A proper horse riding helmet is essential when it comes to safety gear. Most horse riders will tell you that falling off is inevitable at some point in your riding career. A well-fitted helmet is an important step in protecting yourself from a bad head injury.
If you are learning to ride at someone else’s stable or school, you may be able to borrow a helmet. If you plan on riding regularly or long term, it is well worth it to get your own.
You will need durable boots with closed toes to ride in. Ideally, riding boots are leather and should have a small heel (about 1 inch) to prevent slipping through the stirrup. Your boots should have a little traction on the stirrups and some ankle support.
Cowboy boots are the popular choice for western riding. Those who prefer English riding style usually wear paddock boots paired with half chaps or tall boots.
Your horse riding boots don’t need to be too fancy as you are likely to also be doing barn work and mucking out stalls in them. Comfort and functionality are key.
If you get to the level of competing in specific disciplines, you will start wearing specific pant styles that work better for that movement or dress code. Breeches, for instance, are usually worn for jumping and dressage.
Riding pants should have little or no seam on the inner leg as these can cause chafing. Some grip on the knees and seat of the pants will also help you stay in the saddle. If you are wearing long boots or half chaps, you will want pants that fit underneath your boots/ chaps.
Shirts And Jackets
You will not need specific horse riding shirts or jackets. Anything comfortable that is appropriate for the weather and has some breathability will work just fine.
Optional Riding Gear
Usually made of leather or suede, these are zip-on lower leg protectors. These will protect the bottom of your legs from rubbing against the stirrup leathers. Half chaps also stop your pants from riding up and provide some extra grip.
If you ride with long boots, the upper length of the boot protects your leg and you won’t need half chaps. But if you wear short boots, you will almost definitely need to buy a pair.
Whether or not you wear a riding vest is a matter of choice but you should definitely consider it for your own safety. This is especially a good idea for children or if you are learning a high-risk activity including jumping or cross country. We recommend looking into an air vest for these high-risk competitions.
A safety vest or body protector is usually made from a synthetic material and has padded chambers. Safety vests fit over the head over your t-shirt and buckle under the arms or at the back. A safety vest protects the chest and internal organs from the impact of a fall.
Although not strictly necessary as far as horse riding equipment goes, gloves can help give you extra grip. They can also protect your hands from friction if your horse pulls a lot.
If you do buy horse riding gloves, be sure to get a pair that fits snugly and allows you free movement in the fingers. A bulky pair of gloves can actually make it more difficult to control the reins when riding.
Horse Tack for Riding
- Saddle pad/ Horse Blanket
- Bridle, Bit, and Reins
- Stirrup leathers and irons
- Martingale/ Breastplate
Finding a saddle will be your biggest investment when it comes to riding equipment. There are two main styles of saddles; Western saddles and English saddles.
Western Saddles are bigger with a high pommel and cantle. This style is more comfortable and made for working. English saddles are lightweight and give you more contact with the horse’s back. These are traditionally used for showing or hunting.
Saddles with adjustable gullets have a metal part in the front of the saddle that can be replaced with a different size to adjust the fit. Fixed tree saddles, as the name suggests, cannot be adjusted.
Saddle Pad / Saddle Blanket
This is the cushioning pad you place under the saddle. Older, more boney-backed horses require more padding than a younger or filled-out horse.
When riding with an English saddle you will use a shaped saddle pad or numnah. Western-style riding uses a rectangular saddle blanket. Saddle pads and blankets are available in a variety of colors and materials.
A girth goes around the horse and secures the saddle to its back. The girth you need will depend on your horse, saddle, and the type of riding you do. You will not need to buy a girth unless you lease or own your own horse.
Bridle, Bit, and Reins
The bridle fits on the horse’s head and is an essential piece of horse tack. The main parts of a bridle are the noseband, cheek pieces, browband, and crown piece. Most bridles are made of leather although some have synthetic parts.
The bit is made of rubber or metal and lets you communicate with the horse through the reins. It is important that the bit is the right fit and hardness for the horse’s mouth.
Stirrup Leathers and Irons
The stirrup leathers have adjustable holes and buckle onto the saddle below the saddle flaps. Stirrup irons are the metal half-moons at the end where you place your feet while riding.
Stirrups for western saddles are generally wider and sometimes made of leather. You can also buy safety stirrups that prevent your feet from slipping through.
Martingale / Breastplate
A martingale is a system of straps that connect to the reins and girth. It prevents the horse from throwing its head and offers a horse rider additional control.
A breastplate connects to the girth and saddle and keeps the saddle in place by anchoring across the horse’s chest.
Essential Supplies For Horse Care
- Halter and lead rope
- Grooming Kit
- Fly Spray
- Horse first aid kit
- Horse Blanket
- Lunge line
- Fly mask
- Tendon boots/ Bell boots
Halter And Lead Rope
A halter and lead rope are used to hold your horse while grooming or lead it between paddocks, stables, and a horsebox. As far as horse riding equipment goes, these pieces are relatively inexpensive.
Halters and leads come in a variety of fun colors and patterns. It is nice to have your own even if you are only using it at weekly lessons.
Regular grooming is an important part of owning or caring for a horse. A basic grooming kit should have a curry comb, stiff bristle brush, soft brush, comb as well as a hoof pick. You can buy all the essentials in one grooming kit.
As part of your grooming kit, you should also include some cleaning supplies to wash your horse. To start off with, horse shampoo, sponges, and a bucket.
Flies are an irritation that comes with and riding horses and spending time near stables. Spraying your horse with fly spray helps to deter these pests. Before covering your horse in spray, test it out on a small area to make sure there are no reactions on sensitive skin.
To be on the safe side when it comes to using chemicals on your horse, you should opt for a natural product like Farnam Nature’s Defence.
Horse First Aid Kit
You should buy or create your own horse first aid kit to keep in the barn. This kit should be well-stocked with essentials like bandages, wound dressings, ointment, scissors, and other items that help you deal with minor injuries and issues or stabilize the horse until the vet arrives.
Depending on where your horse sleeps and how cold it gets, you may need a horse blanket. Horse blankets should be breathable to prevent sweat build-up. You can get waterproof blankets if your horse spends a lot of time outdoors in wet conditions.
Horses usually swat flies away with their mane and tails. If these natural fly shields are not doing the trick or your horse is sensitive around the eyes, you may want to consider a fly mask.
Tendon Boots / Bell Boots
Bell boots are needed if your horse is prone to overarching with their back feet. This can cause injury to the front heel bulbs or even pull a shoe off.
Similarly, tendon boots protect the front tendons from higher strikes from back hooves, particularly during jumping.
In both cases, fitting ‘boots’ to the front hooves protects the leg and foot from injury by the horse’s own back feet.
Before You Go Shopping For Horse Riding Gear
In your excitement, it is very tempting to compile a long list of horse riding equipment names and hit the stores. Horseback riding has been around for centuries as a sport, work, and leisure activity and there is a huge commercial industry around it.
Buying horse riding equipment can become a very expensive process. In reality, you need very few items before climbing in the saddle. If you do not own the horse, stick to borrowing what you can, to begin with.
First, buy the things you will need for day-to-day riding and care. You will find that you accumulate the right equipment for you and your horse as you become more familiar with your riding discipline.